I have to admit that when I ordered my Instant Pot almost 2 years ago, cooking a whole turkey never crossed my mind–a roast of course, a chicken maybe, but a turkey? Nope, never even thought about it. Then this little appliance started selling like hotcakes, and when a trend catches on you know what happens? For better or worse people get creative. With the Instant Pot trend all the creativity has been mostly good, it helps that even things that don’t do well in the Instant Pot still turn out fair (I’m thinking popcorn and boiled potatoes).
Turkey, though, well that’s in a class all by itself. After all, most of us think of a roasted crispy on the outside “Thanksgiving” turkey when we think about cooking a whole turkey. There are a fair amount of people who don’t really eat turkey other than on holidays. So cooking a whole turkey in the Instant Pot seems more like an experiment than anything else, and I’ll admit it really would not even be worth trying even as an experiment if they had not come out with the newer 8 quart version.
When I first got this wonderful bigger pressure cooker, the difference in size from the 6 quart to the 8 quart was really noticeable, and that’s when the idea popped into my head. What if you could cook an entire turkey in this machine? Scrolling through social media in November it seems that everyone was cooking their entire holiday dinners in the Instant Pot, except for the turkey.
They really should have included the turkey! Because not only is it easy, but it’s probably some of the most moist turkey you’ll ever eat. I was able to cook an 11 pound bird in my 8 quart Instant Pot. If you have a 6 quart, I would NOT try to cook anything over 5 or 6 pounds, so that would be a very small turkey. Cooking a whole turkey is better suited for the 8 quart version, but you can cook a turkey breast in a 6 quart. Cooking a smaller bird or just the breast would help supplement a roasted turkey or even replace it if you wanted something easy with only a few minutes hands on time.
How To Cook A Whole Turkey In The Instant Pot
You will need:
- 11lb turkey
- Salt and pepper
- 2 to 3 fresh sprigs of rosemary
- 2 to 3 fresh sprigs of thyme
- 2 to 3 fresh sprigs of sage
- 1 cup of white cooking wine or white wine vinegar (your choice)
- ½ cup flour (for the gravy)
The first thing I did was brown the turkey on all sides. This is completely optional and admittedly I did it mostly for presentation.
Most chefs will tell you to brown meat to lock in flavors, but pressure cooking is a different kind of cooking since the moisture can’t escape the pot. It’s not a dry cooking method like the oven.
It will however give your gravy more flavor, so if you’re a gravy person this is something you might want to do.
Gather and wash your herbs, and if you’d like to truss your bird grab some string.
You can see that browning covers most of the bird but not every inch. An 11 pound turkey is pretty big to maneuver inside the Instant Pot. If you really need to brown it “properly” you can brown the turkey in a bigger pot on the stove, but I am fine with just browning as much as I could. Use the saute function on your Instant Pot to brown.
Go ahead and stuff your turkey with aromatics. I like using rosemary, thyme and sage.
When you pressure cook poultry it tends to be fall off the bone tender and moist. So again for presentation only, I like to truss my turkey. This step is completely optional and it’s not really even a real trussing.
It’s more of a mock trussing or tying. The bird is tied up just enough so that you can remove it from the inner pot intact for presentation.
You would not want to truss any type of meat very tightly when pressure cooking because you want the bird to cook as evenly as possible.
Place the turkey in the Instant Pot.
Add 1 cup white wine or white wine vinegar. The turkey will give off liquid of it’s own, but this added liquid will give the bird and the gravy flavor along with provide enough liquid for the turkey to come up to pressure and begin cooking. Remember never pressure cook anything without some liquid in the pot.
Place the lid on and make sure that the steam release valve is closed or turned to not venting.
Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
Always make sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly. The internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the gravy remove the turkey from the Instant Pot but leave the juices and drippings. Turn on the saute function and add ½ cup flour to thicken your gravy. I use fresh ground whole white wheat.
Of course since the turkey was pressure cooked it doesn’t have the crispy skin and the color is not as golden brown as if you had roasted it, but I promise what your turkey lacks in appearance it will make up for in taste and moistness. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts!
What is your favorite thing to make in the Instant Pot? What type of food have you tried that you thought you’d never make in a pressure cooker?